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Iraq, the Cradle of Cultural Modernity: An overview from past to present

January 30, 20197:00 p.m.
Casa Árabe Ambassadors’ Hall (at Calle Alcalá, 62, First Floor). 7:00 p.m. Free entry until the event’s capacity is reached.
In Spanish.

Writer and translator Bahira Abdulatif Yasin and Professor Waleed Saleh of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid are taking part in this conference on Wednesday, January 30.

Presented and moderated by: Nuria Medina, the Culture Coordinator at Casa Árabe.

Iraq is known as the cradle of ancient Mesopotamian civilization, where two of humankind’s most important inventions were created: writing and the wheel. Iraqi culture is one of the most ancient in the world, heir to the ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Islamic and Arab civilizations. This rich cultural legacy has left its mark behind on many internationally acknowledged Iraqi creators. Names like those of architect Zaha Hadid, poets Nazikal-Malaika and as-Sayyab, or musician Nasseer Shamma can be heard today the way a thousand years ago one could hear names like those of the great poet al-Mutanabbi or the many writers of the eighth to thirteenth centuries belonging to the era of the Abbasid Caliphate, when Baghdad became one of the most important centers of world civilization.

Entry into the modern era was expressed in Baghdad as of the 1920s through important schools of art and music, as well as its innovative literature. The creative liveliness and drive of the Iraqi people has remained alive in recent decades, despite having endured enormous difficulties because of the   circumstances which the country has experienced since 1980: three wars, an embargo lasting thirteen years, the invasion which took place in the year of 2003 and its later consequences up to the present time.

At this round table discussion, we will be analyzing what the Iraqi cultural scene has been like in the past and today, using as a point of reference one of the most emblematic places in Baghdad’s cultural life, the famous street of al-Mutanabbi.

Event information sheet

Bahira Abdulatif Yasin is a writer and translator who was born in Baghdad. She has been a professor at the University of Baghdad and at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She has authored several literary works in wide-ranging genres and has co-authored approximately twenty books in Spanish and Arabic, as well as translating works such as La arboleda perdida (The Lost Grove) by Rafael Alberti (awarded Best Translated Book of the Year in Iraq, 1993), as well as two anthologies of Spanish and Peruvian poetry. She frequently participates in conferences on literature and gender-related topics. She is a regular contributor to many different Spanish and Arab media.

Waleed Saleh was born in Iraq, where he studied Arabic Philology at the University of Baghdad. He has been an educator at several schools and universities both inside his native country and in Morocco and Spain. He is currently a professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He is also a conference speaker and regular contributor to different media in Spain and the Arab world. He is the author of approximately twenty books, which include: Librepensamiento e islam (Freethinking and Islam, 2016), Amor, sexualidad y matrimonio en el islam (Love, Sexuality and Marriage in Islam, 2010), El ala radical del islam, el islam político - realidad y ficción (The Radical Wing of Islam, Political Islam: Reality and fiction, 2007) and Siglo y medio de teatro árabe (One and a Half Centuries of Arab Theater, 2000).
Iraq, the Cradle of Cultural Modernity: An overview from past to present
Photo: Falah Hasan